undated photograph of Watts Island Light (USCG)
|Location||South of Watts Island in the lower Chesapeake Bay|
|Year first lit||1833|
|Tower shape||conical tower|
|Height||48 feet (15 m)|
The Watts Island Light was a historic lighthouse located near Watts Island in the Chesapeake Bay. It was the only lighthouse built by John Donahoo outside of Maryland.
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and to serve as a navigational aid for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways.
The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula with its mouth located between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. With its northern portion in Maryland and the southern part in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a very important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay's 64,299-square-mile (166,534 km2) drainage basin, which covers parts of six states and all of Washington, D.C.
John Donahoo (1786–1858) was a lighthouse builder active in Maryland for much of the first half of the nineteenth century.
The island on which this light stood was originally called Little Watts Island, though by 1867 the light was referred to as if it were on the much larger Watts Island proper a short ways north. It was constructed in 1833 by John Donahoo and is the only one of his thirteen lights outside of Maryland.
The island was plagued with erosion, and by 1923 four of the original 7 acres (2.8 ha) had disappeared. In that year the light was automated and the entire island of Little Watts, including the keeper's house, was sold to a Baltimore insurance executive, save a 30-foot (9.1 m) diameter plot centered on the tower. After the light was automated, Charles Hardenberg, a Princeton-educated lawyer from a respected Jersey City, New Jersey family moved into the abandoned keeper's house after his brother, a physician, bought Little Watts. Hardenberg had moved to Watts Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay in 1910 on a bet he couldn’t stay there alone for ten years, but lived as a hermit on the islands until his death nearly 30 years later in 1937.
Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.
Jersey City is the second most populous city in the U.S. state of New Jersey, after Newark. It is the seat of Hudson County as well as the county's largest city. As of 2017, the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program calculated that Jersey City's population was 270,753, with the largest population increase of any municipality in New Jersey since 2010, an increase of about 9.4% from the 2010 United States Census, when the city's population was at 247,597. ranking the city the 75th-most-populous in the nation.
A hermit is a person who lives in seclusion from society, usually for religious reasons. Hermits are a part of several sections of Christianity, and the concept is found in other religions as well.
In 1944 a winter storm demolished both the house and the tower, and now even the island itself is gone. The spot is now charted as "Watts Island Rocks" and is marked only with a lighted buoy.
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